Super Soybeans for Whitetail Deer

March 10, 2012 06:59 AM

Corn and soybeans might be the staple money crops in the Midwest, but they also produce big whitetail deer and trophy antlers.

"Soybeans are closely related to antler development," says Grant Woods, a wildlife biologist and consultant from Reeds Spring, Mo. With Illinois and Iowa leading the pack in Boone and Crockett records, it’s clear that soybeans and corn, along with the forest cover associated with river bottoms, make for a strong correlation between nutrition and antler growth.

There is a type of soybean that is bred for both deer and cattle forage. Forage soybeans take 90 to 120 days to reach maturity and hold their leaves longer after first frost. Southern Illinois University research shows them reaching crude protein levels of up to 26% and a 194 score in relative feed value—equivalent or better than alfalfa.

"The better the crop, the better the deer—it’s that simple," Woods says.

For more about forage soybeans and incorporating them into your wildlife management, go to or

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